Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hampshire 100 Race Report

Sheesh..  After two three four (!) days - everything is still pretty sore.

I registered early to race the HH100 (it's 100k = 62 or so miles) for a couple of reasons:  It was my first endurance type race last year (I'm a little sentimental) and you  can save a few bucks registering in advance.  

Not really thinking ahead of the "Tinker effect" - it was obvious that I'd be severely outclassed when some familiar names started showing up a few days before the event.  You know - Jancaitis, Gagnon, Wilichoski, Hines, Lariviere, Spinelli, Foley, Seamus, Freye..  Really - it's just easier to link to the results.  You see most everyone there?  They're freaking animals.

Thankfully at least Andy Gould would be there.  Andy and I have something of a situational kinship.  Ever since the Big Ring Rumpus last year our progression has been close.   Upon arrival Saturday afternoon, Andy and I headed out into the woods, held hands & said a little prayer while holding back tears.  Situational tears.

That evening after wolfing down a pasta dinner from the venue, I went out for a little cruise.  The kind where you ride considerably longer than expected cuz it's so damn nice out- at a leisurely pace of course.   I first headed over to the crazy great singletrack section at the end - then headed out to do a little pre-run of the start portion.

The dirt road section at the start. 

The first real bottleneck area - single file bridge

Heading down the rail trail

Sunset lighting doesn't get much better..

I got back, tidied up the car sleeping arrangements and settled in at the very reasonable hour of 9:00.

I slept ok-ish waking to the alarm at 5:00 am. At about 5:30 the place really started humming.  Lots of cars were showing up in the lot.  And lots of lines building at the porta-jons.

I drank three cups of coffee - ate some cereal then suited & geared up to participate in the pre-race meeting.  Things were happening way faster than expected.  One minute I was chit-chatting - the next, there I am in the Port-O-Pot and I hear "Has anyone seen Alby" over the megaphone.  Crap!!  Squared!!

At the start line everyone is waiting.   No one seems too put off by the delay.  Relief!! Squared!!

The start is announced and we blast round the track - then head off on a short piece of single track through the woods with a log that trips up half the field.  As the lead riders get onto the dirt road a gap already starts forming.  No way I'm letting that happen - so I drill it, and a few riders latch on.  Within less than a minute we're all back together.  At this point I'm thinking that might not have been good energy management.  We've got what?  Maybe another 61 miles to go?

The group sticks together - and I hear one rider exclaim - "That was 36 mph!!" as we whiz along one of the moderate downhills.  Some of the riders are chatting: "about this time last year the experts caught up with us"  "we all figured we might wanna pick up the pace bout then". 

I am blabbering on about being way outclassed and Greg J offers a simple perspective:  "I'm just looking forward to comparing my time to last year".  That seems like a good plan.  I settle in and try to keep the nervous blatherings contained.  Mostly..  

For several minutes I am riding right next to Tinker.  So close in fact,  that I could reach out and touch him if I dared.  I really didn't want to fall into any kind of starstruck funk - but for a moment I definitely got caught up.  All this party could use now is Ned and Tomac.

The group clung together until we reached the footbridge.  Sure enough - things started to come apart - but we still keep fairly tight.  That is, until we hit the first uphill sections.  They weren't very big uphills - but big enough to induce some separation.  At one point 3 or 4 riders started getting hung up riding on the left side.  I see a clean run on the right and blast past.  Again I ponder-  was that too much too soon?  Meanwhile close by, Foley is blipping the throttle back and forth like a strung out thoroughbred.  

After that bit of climbing we headed towards the dread railroad track section.  I say dread as one pedal strike against a railroad tie can bring everyone down right quick.  We make it through safely and now a significant gap begins to form as we head along the long straight that parallels a runway.  The same long stretch that was a total bitch to ride last year (dry soft sand).  At least this year the recent rain has firmed things up.  The lead group has now cleanly broken free. Being a novice moron I start to chase.  Andy is the only one along for the ride...

The effort isn't full on - but it's far from sustainable for too long.  After several minutes I coax Andy into pulling for a bit & he voices concern about maintaining the same pace but takes the lead.  I chill out for a moment - then start pulling again on up to the first significant climb.  Trust me - it's a little disturbing the first time you see it.  "An effing wall" is the best way to describe it.  A steep-ass, rutty, gravely wall.  The grade has to be somewhere over 25%. 

Andy and I drop into the lowest gear available and slowly crawl up the thing.  For a moment or two it looks as though walking may be necessary but we both clean it.  Looking back we cannot see the chase group anywhere.  Onward greenhorn fools!! 

We continue up the hill - and  no surprise, Andy proves annoyingly compatible.  We chug upwards and before long reach the infamous Powerline climb. We can see the leaders ahead walking their bikes.  I drop into super low well in advance and Andy pulls away for a moment.  We both get to the steepest section and humbly dismount.   A couple of spectators are at the top "Hey!" I yell,  "did anyone clean the climb?!"  - Response - "Nope- they all walked" - Phew.. That's a relief.   The trail levels some and we hop back on - then head towards the downhill at the ski area.

Last year following Shawn Smith I nearly went OTB riding down this ski slope.  It's pretty easy to get moving fast and lose rythm / timing with the water bars.  As Andy and I cruised down - there were two riders standing on the right, another on the ground.  I assumed someone had crashed and they were gathering their wits.  Bad assumption.  It turned out the rider Roger Aspholm had sustained serious injuries. Greg Jancaitis and Brian Lariviere stood by - presumably until help arrived.

Andy and I continued on - through  the parking lot, past a little park then on and on and on- and on..  Soon we stop at a station - fill up with some water & Gatorade and continue.  Somewhere near mile 30 it hits:  Cramps.  Little ones at first - the kind I have managed to wring out in the past with reduced effort.  I am losing Andy here and there on descents - but things are starting to get ugly when things turn up.

Finally I break free of Andy bombing some downhills - only to have a stick get jammed in my rear derailleur.  I try back-pedaling then gently forward pedaling - but nothing works.  I have to pull over and yank it out.  Damn - Andy catches up yet again.  We ride pretty much side by side for quite awhile longer.  On a few uphils where Andy has crested first I start getting antsy and at one point start passing on the downside in a not-so good section.  Andy apologizes (really it's my fault for not just asking for the lead) and I go by - I get slightly ahead at another station - fill up and get outta Dodge - never to see him again.  

The trails serve up volley after volley of climbing and the cramps keep getting worse - occasionally spiking here and there in places they've never spiked before.  Having done the course last year - I remember certain climbs that induced some spasms.  One particular climb through a rooty / rocky sections does a number on me.  The tops of my quads can be felt rippling - what the hell is that??!  I am nearly shelled - granny gear up the hills, on the flats - maybe a few more cogs - but not too much - downhills, try to find the best position and sometimes hold the brakes while pedaling to keep the legs moving.  Cripes it's only mile 40.  

The remainder of the ride is pure survival - I stop at a couple of self-serve stations along the way to re-up my water bottle.  At  the second self serve around mile 45 or so a rider swings up behind.  I am standing over the bike - unable to bend my knees much.  He asks "hey- you got any air?"  I reply - while pointing behind the seatpost "just that - you'll have to get it yourself".   Thankfully no-one is around to see this.  The rider (Brian Wilichoski ?) fills his rear tire up - and remounts the CO2.  I can't even swing around to make sure it's secure.  Good job Brian (if that was you) - it stayed put the rest of the way.  

A few more riders are passing now - especially near the 52 mile mark.  It felt like I spent an hour alone at the 52 mile mark! Slowly the little mileage signs crept up:  52.39,  52.48, 52.55 - Damn this sucks.  Brian Lariviere and  Kevin Hines go by,  the first of the Experts go by - then Alec Petro comes up behind while I push the bike up a hill barely bending at the knees.  Geez this is humiliating..  The only trick left is downhills - I manage to drop Alec for a solid couple of minutes but it doesn't take much longer for him to go chugging past on the next uphill.

The absolute worst "I don't know if I'll make it moment" was while crossing a field with maybe 5 miles to go.  The sun is steaming hot, the grass and ground unbelievably slow. Mercifully I get across into some shade then onward down a dirt road and finally:  Into the ending I had been waiting for - sweet, sweet singletrack.  I'm nowhere near reinvigorated - but I'm able to manage the climbs then blast down through some bermy sections.  Greg Jancaitis catches up through this section, compliments my riding (of course - it's downhill) - then wisps past into a switchback climb.  I blurt out "did they have to add this??!" - Greg:  "YES!!" - I deserved that. 

Finally I get to the bridges that I had pre-ridden the evening before - I put a little verve into the remaining climbs - blast past the church / road crossing - being careful to bunny-hop the granite slab lining the grass - and get into the campground area.  Thank the lord.  It'll be over soon. 

I cross the road and put whats left into pushing around the track.  Finally I hear Maz yell out "Hey Alby!!" while I pass through the finish.  Yay - I survived.   30 miles of effin cramps.. Worst cramps ever.  Total time 5:33 - not great, but a solid 30 minutes better than last year.  I'll take it.

I wash the bike up and chat with Andy Freye about an upcoming race  - not too long after, Andy Gould comes through - only 4 minutes behind.  He had a flat - if it weren't for the flat -he'd have most likely gone by at the end also!

So there you have it.  One of the best and worst races in my career.  I need to figure out the proper nutrition and pace for these things.  After the Millstone 12 a few weeks back I felt like I went too slow.   Pretty sure in this race I went too fast.  I went through 5 bottles of water - supplemented with a little Gatorade here and there at the stations and one bottle with a gloppy mix of Perpetuem.  After reading Dougs account - I'm pretty sure some salty stuff may have helped.  I anticipate pickles wrapped in jerky dipped in mustard some day soon.  Even worse I had a little vial of Endurolytes in my pocket.  I haven't used them before - so I wasn't sure if they were the right thing to consume.  They're supposed to be for hotter events - what constitutes hot enough?

The results themselves are misleading.  Take the following (that I know of) into consideration:  Greg and Brian stayed with Roger when he crashed, Chris Gagnon had done a 6 hour race the day before (??!!), Brian Wilichoski had 2 flats and a broken chain, Andy Gould had a flat tire, Tinker and Manuel did this little race in CO the weekend before.   And that's what I know of...  The number of different experiences (really good and really unfortunate) are amazing at a race like this.  

In the end Justin Spinelli won overall with what appears to be a new record of 4:47 and change.  That boy needs a juicy contract.  Paul Simoes (fellow Bikeman) ripped it on the single speed -and the list goes on and on.  The Tinker effect was in full swing - lots of talent showed up for the 5th annual HH100. Lets hope things stay that way. 

The event is amazing itself.  62 contiguous miles takes alot of coordination these days.  I can't even imagine how everything is worked out.  It'd be one thing if it was in some state out West - but it's here in the jam packed  litigious East. 

Speaking of on and on - this post needs just a few more pictures - no?

Elite men podium - Go Justin!  With Manuel Prado (insanely gifted) and Tinker (what more can you say about Tinker? He's done it all)

Single speed podium - coupla Bikeman blokes (Paul Simoes / Chris Cyr)

Vet I CAT I podium

Vet II CAT I podium - Oh look, there's Alec and Brian again - and that guy I raced at the Boneyard a month ago :)

Let's hope I can move my legs in time for the Treasure Valley Rally - let's also hope at least a couple of Elites sign up - huh Jonny?  I wouldn't want to misrepresent the Elite field all by myself..


  1. Square poop...OUCH!
    Mr. Juarez also went for a bike ride in NH the day before. He almost went up some fireroad as quickly as his pal Ned.

  2. Good job man. Was the course the same as last year? TVR is going to be fun with that whole Hurricane thing. Might have to sign up.

  3. Great recap. Best work to date. Everything after mile 52.38 hurt. TVR will be epic.

  4. nice job and write up.

    I'll be toeing the line with you on Sunday. I said I'd be going elite this year so I should at least sign up for one...

  5. Yeah Charlie - I kinda forgot about that warmup the day before.

    Dan - the course was pretty much the same - a bit wetter & definately better marked through the lost forest.

    TVR looks iffy at this point. It'd be killah epic to race in a Hurricane though.. As long as no one got kilt.

  6. Alby - still can't comment here from my Google login. At least the anonymous option works now.

    I was walking, barely bending at the knees, across the big grassy field five miles from the end. Just awful. Seems several people I talked to or read about experienced "worst cramping ever" at that race. Must have been the humidity.

    -Hill Junkie

  7. Nice race report Alby...half wished I raced the Elite.....good to know what happened up there. Was just fun and games in the Expert race :)